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Fake Signatures Add Up to No Value for Vintage Baseball

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
October 16, 2005

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Dear Babe: My son inherited a baseball his uncle got at a Boston Red Sox game. We are not sure of the exact date of the ball game, but we think it was in the 1946-47 timeframe due to Rudy York's signature. There are signatures from some of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankee greats. The signatures on the ball are Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Jimmy Foxx and York. The ball has yellowed due to age, but has been kept in a baseball protector. These are the only signatures on the ball (scans attached).
Laura Parcell, Nashua, N.H.

Based on the dates you supplied, I couldn't figure out how Gehrig got on the ball. Thanks to the scans, I can see that it's not a Gehrig signature, but one that is supposed to be Charlie Gehringer. Now that we resolved the Gehrig issue, we can move to the authenticity of the signatures. I had two authenticators - Mike Gutierrez, owner of MGAuction.net in Arizona, and James Spence, an authenticator and owner of Spenceloa.com in Pennsylvania - take a look at the scans you sent.

"The signatures on the ball appear to be some kid having some fun years ago. They have little resemblance to valid examples," Spence said.

"All fake. All signed in the same hand(writing)," Gutierrez said.

Dear Babe: I acquired several hundred Topps cards when my son died in 1989. I have a number of star player cards from 1963 though 1968 including Bob Clemente (No. 150), Mickey Mantle (150) and a Jerry Koosman/Nolan Ryan rookie card (No. 569).
Den Bleyker, Rancho Mirage

When it comes to a long list of cards such as yours, I recommend checking monthly guides such as Tuff Stuff and Beckett. The Beckett guide will have a page that explains how to determine the condition of your cards, which is the key to value. The 1968 Koosman/Ryan rookie card is worth $300-$600, the '67 Mantle lists for $175-$300, with your 1968 Clemente booking at $50-$100.

Dear Babe: I have a football signed by the 1974 or 1975 Ohio State Buckeyes. One panel of the ball is white and says "The Ohio State University." The rest of the ball is a light tan. It includes everyone's signatures from that team. Most notably it has Woody Hayes and Archie Griffin. It is in excellent condition and the signatures are still very legible. Hayes and Griffin are the only signatures that are signed on the white panel.
Ty Huffer, Atlanta

The football is worth $400-$500, said Bobby Mintz, vice president of operations for Houston-based TristarProductions.com.

Dear Babe: I attended Super Bowl XIII, Miami on Jan. 21, 1979. I sat in the same section with many famous people. On the ticket stub, I have the autographs of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Knight, O. J. Simpson and one more - a football friend of O.J.'s. I cannot remember his name.
Mary Cagle, Marietta, Ga.

Too many cooks spoil the dinner and too many autographs on a ticket stub diminish value, not to mention what Simpson's signature does to it. It's probably worth $50-$100, said Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert.

Dear Babe: I have a Topps Legends of the '60s set of 12 brass cards. They are in gem mint condition and are in a wooden box. The cards include Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Don Drysdale, Bob Clemente, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Billy Williams, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Harmon Killebrew, Carl Yastrzemski and Hank Aaron.
Dianne Jones, Conyers, Ga.

The Topps Legends of the '60s Medallions were issued in 1995. The bronze cards duplicated the stars' cards from various years in the 1960s. These were premiums for Stadium Club members issued one per month for $39.95 each. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards list the set at $500 with Clemente, Mays and Aaron at $50 each and other at $40 apiece. That pretty much says the bronze cards are worth their issue price. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists the set at $200 with Clemente, Mays and Aaron at $20 and the others at $15 each. I only saw a couple of online auctions for these, but it looks like the Standard Catalog's values are closer to the mark when it comes to partial sets. I would imagine that at $39.95 each, most collectors didn't stick around to purchase all 12. To me that means an entire set might attract some interest and in turn add value, but I suspect most sales are going to be to folks who covet an individual player or team.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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